After an unsettling (squeeky brakes, road on the edge of a mountain) bus ride from Kathmandu to Chitwan, we arrived to the National Park. Chitwan was not what we had expected. At. All. It's a town centered around the National Park boasting jungle safaris, public elephant bathing, bike rides around the outskirts of the park, and we thought, a more town-like atmosphere. It felt a little like Nagarkot, except with elephants.
Many tourist agencies offered two-day/three-night packages, but we thought we could do it on our own. After scoring a guesthouse room for 300 Rs (less than $4.00), we thought we made the right choice. We had lunch with two NGO workers from Kathmandu, and then set out to find the Elephant Breeding Center. Without a map. With dusk approaching, we gave up. I did a little bit of work, while Andrew booked us for the Tharu Cultural Program at night.
The Cultural Program was packed. The dancing and druming was fun to watch and listen to, but the people walking down the center aisle to stand and take pictures and videos were not so much fun to have block the performance. The announcer was adorable, and over-zealous in his intonation. At one point, he was introducing the dancers that were going to dance with "drums made of yak skin and peacock fetus!" I paused. Unsure of what I had just heard. The older Canadian women next to me errupted in giggles.
"Did he just say peacock fetus?" Andrew asked. Yep. That's what I thought I heard, and I errupted as well.
"Feathers." I tried to whisper. "I think he meant feathers."
"You caught that too?" The Canadian woman whispered after she caught.
Half of the program seemed to be geared towards a Nepalese audience, with inside jokes and skits that the foreigner crowd didn't quite know how to appreciate. I think the program is performed every night, and I have to say, it shows. Not in a good way, but in the way that you can tell some of the dancers were bored and/or didn't really want to be there. It was no Battambang Circus, that's for sure. I mean seriously, walking, instead of dancing off-stage? Being late for different numbers. Oh no. My childhood dance teachers would not have that. at all.